Europa League final: Chelsea win will answer critics - Rafael Benitez

Ashley Cole and Rafael Benitez

Europa League final

Amsterdam Arena
Wednesday, 15 May
19:45 BST
Live text and BBC Radio 5 live commentary on BBC Sport website

Chelsea's interim boss Rafael Benitez insists his critics will recognise he has been a success if the Blues win the Europa League by beating Benfica.

Benitez has been an unpopular figure among supporters since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November.

But he has the chance to bring a major European trophy to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday before leaving the club.

"I want to win and if I can I will be really proud as we are working hard in very difficult circumstances," he said.

"For me, it is always important to win trophies, to do well and to make sure we have done a good job. When I go home. I think we are doing a good job. People realise to be here at this stage of the competition means we have done a lot of things really well."

Benitez, who has revealed he expects Jose Mourinho to return to Chelsea after he leaves, added: "At the moment, I am working for Chelsea Football Club and I am trying to do my best in every game and every training session, so I will try to win until the end."

Eden Hazard has been ruled out of Wednesday's game with the hamstring injury sustained at Aston Villa on Saturday, while John Terry is very unlikely to recover from the ankle injury he picked up in the same game.

Terry only completed one lap of the pitch during Chelsea's training session at the Amsterdam Arena before returning to the dressing room, although he may not have been in Benitez's starting line-up anyway.

Frank Lampard is expected to start after becoming Chelsea's all-time record goalscorer by taking his tally to 203 with both goals in the 2-1 win at Villa. The victory also secured Chelsea's place in next season's Champions League.

Lampard is out of contract after 12 years at the club and speculation continues to surround his future, although Mourinho's anticipated return increases the midfielder's chances of getting another one-year deal.

Lampard, 34, put the uncertainty to one side to say: "For me, I don't know what the future holds exactly but it doesn't matter on Wednesday night. It is all about winning the game."

The England midfield man also insisted Chelsea would not feel they have had to settle for second best by winning the Europa League after failing to survive the group stage as Champions League holders.

"You are talking about the highest level of club football," said Lampard. "You can't have it your own way every year. This year we were disappointed to end up in the Europa League at first but the more we have been in it, the more we have grown to love it."

Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus is confident his side will not suffer a hangover from their first league defeat of the season on Saturday against Porto.

Brazilian Kelvin struck an injury-time winner as Porto maintained their unbeaten run and moved top of the Portuguese league with one game left.

Benfica have topped the table for most of the campaign, but Jesus insists his team have already forgotten the loss.

"It was an important game, but it has nothing to do with this one," he said. "The players are very, very highly motivated. They want to be at their highest level."

Top Stories